Former Formula 1 driver Gerhard Berger has warned that the dynamic between Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell could begin to waver after the 24-year-old’s impressive performances so far in 2022.
The underperforming Mercedes team’s woes have been cultivated by the turn of the new technical regulations, of which Berger has declared himself a fan
Managing director Ross Brawn and his team spent months delving into intensive research in a bid to ascertain what changes would make for the most competitive racing spectacle, and they landed on a change of aerodynamics that would diminish the effects of dirty air and tyre degradation.
They removed a lot of aerodynamics that had previously been on the chassis, and placed winglets on the floor of the car as they brought in the latest iteration of the ground effect concept.
The Briton revealed that he had been breaking rules in a bid to prevent teams from finding loopholes after both he and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali predicted they might try to.
The opening four rounds of the season have seen cars able to follow more closely, maintain close proximity for longer, and engage in thrilling battles.
Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc went head-to-head for the victory in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in the first two races of the season, and the cars’ ability to follow meant that a re-pass can be executed on the next DRS straight, leading to “smart tricks” between the pair as they used their intelligence to fight for the win.
Berger has thoroughly enjoyed watching the racing so far in 2022, and praises Brawn for his efforts.
“Hats off to Ross Brawn who was in charge of making the regulations,” he said, quoted by Speedweek.
“The cars look better, the drivers can overtake, the races are exciting.”
However, the teams have been struggling to keep their weight down as the cars get incrementally heavier year on year.
Many of the teams are estimated to be over the 798kg limit, with Ferrari and Red Bull thought to be sitting at around 808kg.
The 10-time race winner believes that the weight is excessive, but the reasons for it are easily discernible.
“The disadvantage is the cars are too heavy, like small trucks,” he added.
“800 kilos is too much. We were on the track with 550 at the time. But the additional weight can be explained by the hybrid formula.”
Mercedes have been presented with fundamental issues with their car as a legacy of the new cars, and they are yet to completely comprehend the “porpoising,” handling and tyre warmup they have been experiencing.
Russell, who was signed over the winter to replace Valtteri Bottas, is 21 points ahead of Hamilton in the Drivers’ Standings having generally out-performed the seven-time champion in the erratic car this season.
The relationship between the pair has been amicable thus far, but the Austrian believes it is only a matter of time before Hamilton begins to get agitated by the 24-year-old.
“He will soon get on Lewis’ nerves,” he said.
“Russell was one of the outstanding drivers at Imola like Lando Norris and Max Verstappen.”
Red Bull’s one-two finish at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix puts them ahead of Mercedes in the Constructors’ battle, while their adviser Dr Helmut Marko described Norris as the “only” other driver on the grid that is on the level of Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc after his sixth career podium appearance.